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Fischel Kanapoff’s salty 1924 couplet song Hu-tsa-tsa is a quintessential vaudeville vehicle in which the sets of couplets—always subject to alteration, variation, addition, or substitution, even on the spot, as well as to augmentation by dance and other stage shtik—frame spoken jokes or comic monologues to a muted, vamped orchestral accompaniment. The title Hu-tsa-tsa is meaningless, although the published Yiddish title in Hebrew characters, O-tsa-tsa, carries the connotation “That’s how it is!” But, inexplicably, the subtitle in Roman characters reads hu-tsa-tsa [utzatza], which is how the song has always been sung.
Little is known about Fischel Kanapoff other than that he was a popular variety-show entertainer who wrote many independent Yiddish songs that once had currency (though this is probably his best-known and the one most frequently sung), as well as lyrics to similar songs by others.